Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube
East Midlands Chamber News

ONS employment statistics for May to July 2020 show East Midlands is one of worst-hit regions - Chamber responds

SEGRO Logistics Park East Midlands Gateway, located next to East Midlands Airport, is one of the hotspots for job creation in the region

New figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the UK unemployment rate has risen to its highest level for two years.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 4.1 per cent for the three months ending July 2020, compared to 3.9 per cent for the April to June period – with 695,000 UK workers disappearing from the payrolls of British companies since the beginning of Covid-19 lockdown in March.

There were 156,000 fewer young people in employment between May and July compared to between April and June.

In the East Midlands, the unemployment rate rose by 0.7 per cent – the second largest increase in the UK, behind the South West at 0.8 per cent – compared to the February to April period.

This took the East Midlands unemployment rate to 4.4 per cent, a third of a percentage point above the national average and the joint fourth highest rate in the country.

East Midlands Chamber comments on ONS employment statistics for May to July 2020

Responding to the figures, Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said: “These figures show that people in the East Midlands have clearly been hit at a disproportionate level compared to the majority of the UK as the effects of coronavirus continue to damage the economy.

“This can perhaps be explained by the fact unemployment is particularly rising in sectors such as retail, hospitality and leisure, which represent large swathes of the regional economy. These are being replaced by new jobs in areas including logistics and IT, illustrating the shift in consumer habits that had already been happening, but was exacerbated during the past few months.

“The good news from an East Midlands perspective, though, is that we are well positioned to take advantage of these opportunities in the long term, with a growing logistics sector developing around East Midlands Airport. This was highlighted by Amazon’s announcement last month that it is creating 1,000 jobs in Sutton-in-Ashfield – its fourth fulfilment centre in the region.

“Caution remains for what lies ahead in the short and medium term, however. A lag in reporting means the latest ONS figures only cover until the end of July, when the Government’s furlough scheme was still in full swing. We won’t see the full impact of how it has been tapering off for another couple of months, while the biggest impact is likely to come after it is brought to an end altogether on 31 October.

“The Chamber’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey for Q3 2020, which closed yesterday, shows that 27% of businesses decreased the size of their workforce over the three months to September.

“There may be some light at the end of the tunnel, however, as 23% of respondents expect to see their workforce increase over the next three months, compared to 17% that expect it to decrease. This could be the result of a number of factors, including the Government’s Kickstart programme being launched and a general recovery in demand.

“What is clear, though, is that the economic recovery looks to be uneven across sectors, so for every success story we’ll likely see an example of where a business has struggled and someone has sadly lost a job. So it’s hugely important that Government support remains in place for those businesses and individuals affected.”

The ONS regional statistics, including the East Midlands, can be found here.